We'll pause in our regular M&A programming for an executive pay news flash: Johnson & Johnson CEO pulled down $23 million in 2008, an 8 percent decrease. And Amgen chief Kevin Sharer got $14.5 million, down from $19.9 million. Those are the first two decreases in compensation we've seen among pharma CEOs this year.
What's more, J&J's Bill Weldon (photo) turned down a raise for 2009, as we reported last month. At the time, an adviser to corporate boards told the Star-Ledger that he believed Weldon was exhibiting leadership during a difficult economy. "I think in many cases, individual CEOs are showing that they're trying to be responsive," Ellig said. "It seems appropriate that people at the top do these things when others in the organization are struggling to hold onto their jobs."
And there are J&Jers living in fear of pink slips. On top of the 4,800 laid off in 2007, workers at J&J subsidiaries have hit the chopping block in recent months, 100 here, 40 there, 159 there. And employees are buzzing about more, though there's been no official indication that job cuts are in the offing.
Meanwhile, Amgen's Sharer (photo) may have seen his total pay package decline, but what he lost in numbers he may have made up in substance. More than half of Sharer's 2007 compensation was paid in options, BNet Pharma points out; this year, his incentive cash money doubled to $3.8 million, and he got $500,000 in "other" cash, plus his $1.5 million base pay. His options dropped to $3.5 million. In this market, cash in the hand is much better than options in the bush.
Sharer's compadres at Amgen also saw their pay weighted more heavily toward cash this time around. CFO Robert Bradway got $4.2 million in compensation, compared with $2.6 million in 2007. R&D chief Roger Perlmutter received $5.3 million versus $4.7 million, while EVP of operations Fabrizio Bonanni earned $6.2 million, up from $3.1 million.